Reversing the Tide of Obesity

In his commentary, this author summarizes the findings of the four main papers on obesity in this Lancet issue. He calls the series “highly relevant to clinicians and policy makers. It renews attention to the obesity epidemic and the cost and consequences of inaction.”

Dietz finds optimism in the fact that heightened awareness of adverse effects might have contributed to a reduced rate of increase in obesity in the United States and United Kingdom. “We could be at a turning point, but we have not yet turned the corner. The challenge posed by this series is how to implement the strategies necessary to reverse these trends.”

He cites a number of U.S. efforts that have begun to address obesity:

  1. Mandatory menu labeling in restaurants and vending machines with calorie information.
  2. New standards for foods in schools and child care environments.
  3. Promotion of breastfeeding in hospitals.
  4. Michelle Obama’s "Lets Move Child Care Challenge" for child care settings to improve physical activity and healthy foods and beverages and limit screen time.

“Whether these and other initiatives in the USA will be transformative remains to be seen. Nonetheless, the struggle to prevent and control obesity has been intensified,” he concludes.